Chapter Three


Berkeley, California

Winter, 2018

I’d been walking fifteen feet behind her for at least two blocks. I wasn’t sure if I was following her yet. When I caught a glimpse of her face as I turned onto Shattuck Avenue, I felt as if an invisible rope was pulling me closer to her.

She was wearing a soft leather jacket that didn’t hide her athletic figure. Her black leather boots ended just below her knees. Her hair fell in wavy golden strands, ending a few inches below her shoulders. It crossed my mind that any sane man would crave her permission to run his hands through it.

I’d known my share of beautiful women. I never tried to meet any of them by following them down the street. So with every step, I thought about how to go about doing something I wouldn’t have considered a good idea before that morning in early February.

I should have been hurrying to Chocolat to pick up a cake for Jackson. Chocolat sold a cake that resembled a big hockey puck and tasted of rich dark chocolate as sweet as victory and as smooth as warm butter. Of course, Jackson could have whipped up one for himself, but hell, it was his birthday. He shouldn’t have to bake his own cake, even though I knew he would. I also knew Jackson’s cake would be better.

But none of that was important anymore. I’d made up my mind. I was definitely following the golden hair swaying in front of me, trying out various openings in my mind. None of them seemed quite right. I needed something unusual to happen. Fortunately, it was an unusual day.

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